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High Commissioner, New Delhi (Accommodation)

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 18 May 1954

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asked the Minister of Works why it is necessary to spend £1,500,000 on residential and office accommodation for the High Commissioner in New Delhi in the present financial year.

The figure of £1,500,000 is a provisional total estimate of the cost of building offices and residential accommodation for the High Commissioner and his staff in Delhi. It is not the amount to be spent this year.

Even if that is so, are there no offices and residential accommodation in Delhi already, which have been occupied by British officials in the past, and why is it necessary to have this scheme, in addition?

I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman would have known that when India became an independent State it was necessary for us to start from scratch.

Does the hon. Gentleman really think that there were no officials already in residence and that there was no office accommodation before India became an independent State?

I did not say anything of the kind. When India became an independent State the accommodation which was occupied by the British authorities was taken over by the India Government.

Will my hon. Friend represent to his right hon. Friend that his Department should approach the Treasury with a view to putting some of these capital items below the line in the Government's accounts, as there would not be half the fuss about them that there is?

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that the two large expenditures referred to in these Questions are only two of many which are giving serious concern to Members of this House, and that the recent decision of Her Majesty's Government with regard to another matter raised on the Floor of this House this week is making it even more difficult for this House to exercise proper control over the £200 million being spent abroad out of the Vote of Supply?

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman, but I should like to emphasise in fairness to Her Majesty's Government that all we are doing is to give effect to decisions which were taken before this Government came into office.

Was it not the basis of the present Government's attack on the last Government that they were spending far too much money? Why go on doing it?